Great, so you have decided what your “why” is for moving. Keep this in mind as you try and sort through the minefield that is immigration. This is the first barrier you will encounter and depending on your personal circumstances, it could be one you just cannot overcome.
Disclaimer time, the following is only for guidance. I am no expert on immigration. I have researched the following as best I can but of course, immigration laws can and do change depending on the political and international landscape. America, I am looking at you. I suggest you read the following and then confirm your understanding with your local German embassy or consulate.
The Schengen Area is a zone of 26 countries which are party to the Schengen Agreement. These countries agreed to the abolishment of their borders with each other to allow for among other things, the unrestricted movement of people.
They have one common visa with no border controls between them. If you are a citizen from one of these countries, you can live and work in Germany without restriction though you will still need to register with the local German authorities.
The following countries along with Germany make up the Schengen Area; *drum roll*
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
European Union Citizens
The European Union (EU) is made up of 28 member states. It can be a bit confusing as some countries that are members of the EU are also in the Schengen Area, while others are only one or the other.
Luckily for our interest in the matter it makes no difference. As with the Schengen area countries, as a national from one of the member states of the EU, you can also live and work in Germany without restriction. Again, you will still need to register with the local German authorities.
The following countries are members of the EU along with Germany;
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
The rest of us will need to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel) if we wish to stay longer than 90 days and/or work in Germany.